An effort to legalize internet gaming in Indiana will include online poker after all.
Sen. Jon Ford introduced his interactive gaming bill Monday. The internet casino bill was issued as a response to the coronavirus pandemic that shut down casinos.
In his first draft for the bill in October, Ford left out online poker. He was under the impression that including online poker could make the bill more difficult to pass.
However, after talking with colleagues and people in the Indiana gaming industry, he changed his mind.
“They didn’t think it would be as big an issue as I thought it will be,” Ford said. “But we’ll see. I’m taking the approach that if it’s a problem, I can always take it out.”
Ford hopes to get a hearing for the bill, numbered S 417, this month in the Senate Public Policy Committee.
Details of Indiana internet gaming bill
Ford’s bill allows Indiana’s 14 casinos and racinos to offer internet casino games and online poker. This includes the planned Rocksino in Terre Haute.
Details of the Indiana online casino bill include:
- Casinos and racinos pay $500,000 for an interactive gaming license, renewable annually for $50,000.
- Each casino can partner with up to three online brands, or skins.
- Those internet gaming operators pay $100,000 for an initial license, renewable annually for $25,000.
- Internet gaming revenue taxed at 18%, including 3% for local governments.
- 3.33% of state tax revenue collected goes to an Addiction Services Fund.
Ford optimistic Indiana can pass legislation by April
As in all state legislatures this year, the pandemic will play an unpredictable role that could doom or bolster the bill’s prospects.
“With COVID, we’re probably not going to get the sheer number of bills through that we normally do,” Ford said. “Things are just going to move a little slower. Hopefully we don’t get quarantined because that could really slow things down.”
However, the economic effects of the pandemic also mean the state needs revenue. Here’s a way to raise revenue without increasing taxes.
“We’re estimating between $65 to $80 million in annual tax revenue, so that certainly helps the argument,” Ford said. “Also, our casinos are still at 50% capacity with no food and beverage. We should want to do this bill to help the casino industry that has been down quite a bit this year.”
Since floating draft language of the bill in October, Ford has had the opportunity to take the temperature of his colleagues on the issue. He has found the response encouraging. The Indiana legislative session runs until April 29.
“Most folks I talk to don’t seem to have an issue with this,” Ford said. “Everyone’s pleasantly surprised with the success of sports wagering. A great percentage of revenue from sports wagering has come from online, so I think it pretty clearly shows the younger generation in Indiana really wants mobile gaming.”